Reason #9: Worship Leaders Are Not Connecting With the Congregation
The post, 9 Reasons People Aren’t Singing in Worship, has generated hundreds of responses, some supportive and some not so much. Today, I want to dig deeper into reason 9.
Worship leaders are not connecting with the congregation. We often get caught up in our world of amazing music production and lose sight of our purpose of helping the congregation to voice their worship. Let them know you expect them to sing. Quote the Bible to promote their expressions of worship. Stay alert to how well the congregation is tracking with you and alter course as needed.
Some of the previous points already speak indirectly to this issue. Let me flesh out a few additional points:
In today’s world of in-ear monitors and bright stage lights, worship leaders often find themselves isolated from the people they are called to lead. We can’t hear them. We can’t see them. How can we gauge their connection in worship? How can we know if they are really participating or just a mass of spectators? As worship leaders, it is imperative that we are able to make aural and visual contact with those we seek to lead. This means either taking out an in-ear monitor or dialing in the congregational mics in the mix so we can track with them. It also means adjusting the lighting so that we can really see the congregation well. When stage lighting is much brighter than lighting in the congregation’s area, it also breeds the feeling of being at a concert and creates a spectator mentality among the congregation. As we really connect with the congregation, we can better make adjustments to the worship plan as the Spirit leads.
Are our in-ear monitors and stage lights turning our congregations into spectators? Click To Tweet
Are we choosing songs that connect with our congregation and our mission, or do we select songs totally based on our own preferences and desires, even if that does not fit our context? We must surrender our own desires if they do not coordinate with the context of the church we are called to serve. Otherwise, our connection with the congregation will diminish.
Worship leaders must surrender their desires if they don't fit the context of their church. Click To Tweet
If we fail to love and share life with those in our church, we miss out on the biggest piece of connection with our congregation. We become fellow travelers in worship as we disciple and love those under our care. Conversely, if we merely spend our time producing the “worship event” void of discipleship and relationship, then our leadership can become cold and distant and our people see us more as performers than ministers, more as a distant personality than someone approachable and caring.
Worship production without relationship makes us more like performers than ministers. Click To Tweet
What additional ways do you see worship leaders can connect with the congregation?
My disconnection to worship music in church is a cultural barrier. I used to attend a multi-cultural church where worship music reflected the backgrounds of those attending; we had a variety of music styles and songs were sometimes sung in different languages. I am now living in a predominantly white area and attend a local church. I love the teaching I receive, but although I also love the lyrics, I cannot fully connect to worship because of the music style used (mainstream.) I am from a Caribbean background and my Christian friends here think I’m weird because I listen to Caribbean and RnB worship music. Any suggestions?
i am a volunteer worship leader in a retirement community of 55 and older folks….i have been doing it now for nearly 12 years….i am blessed to be able to do what i do…i am very aware of what the people ‘like’, know’ and enjoy during our ‘music’ time….i started out by creating a ‘word only song book’ with extra large letters on 8.5 x 11 paper…inserting them into sheet protectors and putting them into a notebook binder indexing and, numbering them as i introduced new songs into the book…(usually one or two songs per month)…..we are up to 175 songs in our book and i’ve slowed down introducing any additional songs until we can all sing every song in the existing book with joy and comfort….we have most all of the ‘older’ hymns included along with many of the ‘gaither homecoming’ songs and some of the newer songs that have come up, (such as those by brian free and assurance)……..
i said all that to say this…..the ‘9’ reasons mentioned in this article are right on target (and i’m certain there are others that could also be added but i won’t go into my opinion here)….we, as worship leaders need to be aware of all of those ‘9’ reasons and work on NOT falling into those ‘traps’……..don’t be ‘prideful’ when it comes to self-examination of how you are doing as a worship leader, but rather pray, (daily) to help you put ‘self’ behind the ‘curtain’ and put God out front. sometimes just a quiet single acoustic guitar or a single piano or even acappella is all that is necessary when we’er singing God’s music and wanting to “Glorify’ Him and to prepare our hearts to receive His Message. i found myself nearing some of the ‘9’ reasons mentioned here and am working and praying diligently to remain ‘relevant’ to why i am doing what i love doing so much…….thank you mr. Lamm, for your insight.
I believe one big issue that lacks acknowledgement is that the physical effects of the modern worship ‘experience’ may not be kind to the elderly in the congregation or those with physical issues. I’m 55 and have the beginnings of cataracts in both eyes, but still too early for surgery. The colored stage lighting has now pretty much ensured I see nothing but streaks out of my left eye during the service. The real fun sets in trying to duck the laser lighting, the cornea’s just love that. Another gentleman in the congregation often leaves during the ‘worship’ and returns for the sermon, because the percussion and volume hurts both his chest and ears. Many older people stay seated because they’re expected to stand for 25 minutes of praise choruses and spring up and down repeatedly because the order of worhsip hasn’t been well planned.. You’ll recall the detailed set of instructions and priorities Jesus left Peter when he simply said, Peter, feed my sheep. The young sheep, the old sheep, and all sheep should be cared for, but we forget the physical needs of the older sheep, or we just decide to put them in a different pen for an older sheep’s service. At what point after we accepted Christ did we lose our compassion for the sheep of our own fold? My experience has been there’s no sympathy from Pastors or worship leaders, I’ve had the dialogue and have tried multiple approaches. Modern, entertainment based religion, done!
Hear, hear! I’ve no such physical limitations, and am a few years younger, but 25 minutes of standing still OR singing is tiring for most people. And the decibel level is so high it hurts those with hearing aids. I’ve been tempted to measure the decibel level since I’m sure that a lot of church folk will soon have to buy hearing aids due to noise exposure. (One of my relatives goes to a church that hands out earplugs at the door. This is their solution to volume??)
One other point of contention, song leaders are not ministers; they cannot lead people TO worship. Worship is a heart attitude to be expressed in every part of a believer’s life—we are to be “a living sacrifice…which is your true and proper worship (NIV) /…which is your spiritual worship (ESV). Music is simply one way to express the emotions of the heart—and it’s pretty meaningless if the voice comes from a life that is not “holy and pleasing (or acceptable) to God.”
I believe that the 10th reason should be that the devil doesn’t want the old hymns sung in the Churches anymore…and he got his way.
The tenth (10) reason is the devil doesn’t want the old hymns in the church anymore…and he got his way too.
Any worship “minister”‘s main job should be “making disciples”, as given by Jesus. And Jesus didn’t mean just more music performers.
I understand that volunteer worship leaders may not have the time to do this as much as paid ones. But paid ones should have no excuse.